LaVonna Roth is passionate, driven, successful, and accomplished. Yet, following what has become a theme among the women I’ve interviewed, she’s human and thus, is challenged at times by her own self-doubt. As the founder of S.H. I. N. E. (an acronym for Service, Heart, Inspire, Navigate, and Exceptional), LaVonna engages teachers and students in “funshops” where they work to reflect on their passions and make plans to accomplish work motivated by the same.
LaVonna refers to the dynamic educators with whom she works as Edustars (Educational Rockstars) and works to help inspire teachers while also advocating for teacher self-care — which together leads to exceptional educators. Sitting down to interview LaVonna, I could hear the passion she speaks to in her voice. Lavonna and I covered a series of topics. Listen to the entire conversation.
Some of the highlights include:
(1:11) Our responsibility and obligation as teachers and leaders to put students first and think about what’s best for kids when making decisions.
(3:58) Facing the challenge of self-doubt and understanding that limiting beliefs only do us a disservice in the long run.
(7:00) The need to take a step back and ground yourself in your “WHY” when facing challenges or entering into challenging conversations.
(16:45) The need to surround yourself with supporters so you can take risks, knowing that people will be there to support and encourage you no matter the outcome.
(20:00) Having a friend who is willing to tell you the truth, even if the truth hurts or is painful to hear.
Listening to LaVonna, there is a sense of urgency in her voice. An urgency to listen to the narratives of students, an urgency for teachers to become inspired by being engaged with their most passionate interests, and an urgency to overcome self-limiting internal dialogue to rise above the challenges we face. It’s also clear that LaVonna speaks from personal experiences as she acknowledges that we’re all just trying to find our own path — herself included. As you listen to LaVonna, think about your path ahead and what actionable steps you can take to further your own passions. Once you reflect, reach out to someone from your support group to engage in a conversation about your plans.
Crystal Morey is a K-6 instructional coach in Kent, Washington. Crystal spent the past seven years teaching middle level mathematics. She’s a strong advocate of inquiry based mathematics instruction, as well as increasing student voice in the classroom. Crystal has partnered with a variety of organizations on projects, including Illustrative Mathematics, Washington STEM, and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington State. When not teaching, Crystal is a mom to two energetic children. She utilizes her many life experiences to speak about the challenges and opportunities many educators face. Connect with Crystal on Twitter: @TheMathDancer.